in a bit of a quandary, and I hope you (and your readers) can help me
out. Professional career advisors always say we should keep our options
open, talk to headhunters when they call, and stay on the lookout for
better opportunities. But what do employers think of this perpetual job
hunt? I've been working with a recruiter who has lined up interviews
for me at another company, for a job that would be a terrific step up
for me. Here's the catch: The final round of interviews is at
headquarters, which happens to be in a different country, so I will
need a few days to get there and back. How do I explain this to my
boss? Do I just call in sick so I can take the trip, or discuss the
situation honestly with him?
-- No Name, Please
Dear No Name:
is a tough one, because in some companies, you get cast into the outer
darkness for even thinking about going elsewhere. Once you're perceived
as "disloyal," you might find yourself passed over for important
projects or promotions, or even fired. On the other hand, a candid
discussion with your boss about your career goals, and why your current
job isn't meeting them, may be a good thing. There may be in-house
opportunities that your boss could offer you as an enticement to stick
around which you may not hear about unless you make it clear that
you're restless. If you have a solid relationship with your boss, and
you know he values your work, try feeling him out on where he sees your
career going, and how soon you might expect to move up to a bigger
position. There's no need to come right out and say that you're
interviewing someplace else. Until you have a firm offer in hand, that
job is hypothetical anyway.
Whatever you do, don't lie about why
you're taking a few days off. Use up any vacation or personal days you
have coming. (Here's hoping you have some, or can arrange to work extra
hours to make up the time.) Then try to minimize your absence by
scheduling at least one of your flights on a weekend, if you can.
Calling in sick is not only sneaky and unethical, it's too risky:
Murphy's Law dictates that, as soon as you've done so, you'll run into
a colleague at the airport.
After 3 years
as a customer-service rep, I just got promoted to my first supervisor
position. This is great, but I am nervous. My department and another
department recently merged, so I am supervising almost twice as many
people as the last person in this job did, and there are so many other
changes going on that it's hard to keep up. My company doesn't offer
training for new supervisors (only for new managers, which is one level
above me), but I really want to succeed at this job. Any advice?
-- Rookie Boss
Dear Rookie:Personal credibility.
In today's less-hierarchical organizations, Daniels says, personal
credibility becomes more important than your title or formal position.
You can earn it by following through on promises, respecting others,
giving subordinates credit for their work, and doing your best to get
employees the resources they need to shine. Says Daniels, "The credible
supervisor is able to catch some flak in the event of a mistake, and
usually finds it easier to convince staffers of new ideas." Employee commitment.
Stellar supervisors, the AchieveGlobal study notes, "inspire creativity
and dedication to meet goals." And how do you do that? By "identifying
the value of the group's work, demonstrating how each employee fits
into the big picture, and giving employees a clear direction." Your
subordinates also need to know exactly how their performance will be
measured. Management support. Sit down with the manager
you report to, if you haven't done it already, and find out what's most
important to him or her. Then figure out how you can support those
aims. If problems arise (as of course they will), come up with a
possible solution or two before you talk to your boss about it. Keep
him or her up to date on what's going on.
It's natural to be nervous. This past summer, AchieveGlobal (http://www.achieveglobal.com),
a Tampa-based training and consulting firm, surveyed about 500
newly-anointed supervisors and found that most are struggling with
"increased demands with less support" from their employers and
"constantly changing job duties," as well as "an uncommitted and
increasingly cynical workforce." Gulp. But fear not. Sharon Daniels,
AchieveGlobal's CEO, says the research uncovered three main traits that
successful supervisors share. Daniels suggests you concentrate on
building your skills in these areas:
Two thoughts from
yours truly: It might help to bear in mind that the people who decided
to give you this job believe that you can handle it, and they're
probably right. If you get into a bind, think about the best boss you
ever worked for, and try to approach the situation as he or she would
have. You'll do fine.
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